ALAMEDA – San Diego Chargers defensive lineman Joey Bosa’s season didn’t start on schedule. The No. 3 overall pick missed the preseason during a contract holdout and the first four games with a hamstring issue.
Bosa’s professional debut came in Oakland five weeks in, and he was awesome. The rookie had two sacks, a quarterback hit and four other pressures.
“I think it was a good game to get my feet wet and really get a feel of being out there,” Bosa said in a conference call. “It got my confidence up for the rest of the season.”
It marked a productive start to a season that hasn’t slowed much. Bosa has 27 tackles, 6.5 sacks, 11 quarterback hits, 27 other pressures, a forced fumble and 10 tackles for loss in just nine games.
The Raiders know all about Bosa’s ability from that first meeting, and will be keenly aware of him during Sunday’s game at Qualcomm Stadium.
“He’s very active, looks like they have a good young player that we’ll be seeing at least twice a year for a long time,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said. “He’s a good player.”
He’s yet another top-flight pass rusher in the AFC West, with at least one game wrecker per team. The Raiders have Khalil Mack, Von Miller’s in Denver, Justin Houston’s now back playing for Kansas City and Bosa seems like a real threat in San Diego.
Raiders quarterback Derek Carr is just thrilled about that, having to face quality pass rushers in every division game.
“We don’t have enough in this division,” Carr said in a tone dripping with sarcasm. “Yeah, we obviously don’t have enough. Joey plays with great effort. He does a real good job with moving on the line of scrimmage and things like that. They put him in different spots.
“They have a great defensive coordinator, a very smart coach. He knows what he’s doing with him, and he uses him to his strengths, he really does. We have our hands full, obviously, but looking forward to it.”
Bosa believes he’s better than his last Raiders game, a more complete player who shouldn’t be judged on high motor alone. He takes pride in great technique, being fundamentally sound to accentuate tremendous athletic talent.
“I notice a good amount of how I changed this year,” Bosa said. “One thing I could tell is how much more flexible I am now. The way I move out there just looks quicker, and I’m bending better. There’s pretty significant change throughout the short, however many weeks it has been.”
Bosa enjoys watching other pass rushers, but he doesn’t get to the quarterback like Khalil Mack does. The Raiders offensive line can’t rely on Mack to help prepare for a unique pass rusher who weighs in a 280 pounds and can play all over the line.
“(Mack is) just a freak of nature, just so quick and twitchy the way he moves,” Bosa said. “I think we’re pretty different players when it comes to our pass rushing technique and how we go about it. I always love watching other great players. Of course, any little thing I can pick up off his game is good.”